Three face trial over ‘cartoonist attack plot’

Three men suspected of plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper that printed controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad in 2005 will go on trial in Norway next month, a state prosecutor said on Tuesday.

The three suspects, who were arrested in July 2010, have been charged with "conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack in northern Europe," the prosecutor Geir Evanger told AFP.

"They are suspected of planning and preparing an attack against the newspaper Jyllands-Posten primarily as well as the caricaturist Kurt Westergaard," he said.

Westergaard, 76, drew the most controversial of the 12 cartoons, featuring the prophet with a lit fuse in his turban. He was the victim of a murder attempt last year and has received several death threats.

The three men risk prison sentences of up to 12 years, Evanger said.

According to police, the three — Mikael Davud, a Norwegian of Uighur origin, Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, an Iraqi Kurd residing in Norway, and David Jakobsen, an Uzbek also living in Norway — tried to obtain components to make explosives.

Norway's intelligence agency PST also suspects them of having ties to terror network Al-Qaeda.

Mikael Davud and Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak have been held in custody since their arrest and have both admitted they were planning an attack though their versions have differed on who their target was, the first saying it was the Chinese embassy in Oslo and the second claiming it was Jyllands-Posten.

The third man, David Jakobsen, has denied any responsibility and is currently a free man.

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Kongsberg attacker killed victims with ‘sharp object’

Norwegian police said Monday that the five victims of last week's attack were killed by a "sharp object" used by the suspect, not a bow and arrows.

The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident.
The Kongsberg attacker is said to have killed five people with sharp objects. Pictured is police tape from a separate incident. Photo by Søren Storm Hansen on Flickr.

“At some point he discarded or lost his bow and arrows,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told reporters.

He said that during the attack on Wednesday the suspect killed “five people with a sharp object both in private addresses and in public spaces”.

Police, who had previously said that the suspect Espen Andersen Brathen was armed with a bow and arrows and two other weapons, did not specify the nature of the sharp weapons, adding that they were still interviewing witnesses.

“Everything points to the victims being selected at random,” Omholt said.

According to the police, more than 10 people were also shot at with arrows at the start of the attack, but none were killed with this weapon.

READ MORE: Norway police query Kongsberg attacker’s Muslim faith

During police questioning, Brathen has confessed to the killings and to wounding three others.

The 37-year-old Danish citizen has announced publicly that he is a convert to Islam and initially police reported that there had been fears of radicalisation.

He is however being kept in a medical facility pending a psychiatric evaluation, which is necessary to determine whether Brathen can be held legally responsible for his actions.

“As far as motive is concerned, illness remains the main hypothesis. And as far as conversion to Islam is concerned, this hypothesis is weakened,” Omholt added.

On Saturday, police announced the identities of the five victims, four women and one man: Andrea Meyer, 52, Hanne Merethe Englund, 56, Liv Berit Borge, 75, Gunnar Erling Sauve, 75 and Gun Marith Madsen, 78.